|President Harry S. Truman decorating a soldier during a Medal of Honor presentation ceremony in the East Room of the White House, as other recipients and guests look on. In the background, standing directly in front of the candelabra, is Press Secretary Charles Ross. Standing in front of the flag, leaning over the table of medals is Major General Harry Vaughan. Credit: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum|
On March 18, 2014, President Obama awarded 24 Medals of Honor to heroes of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, during a ceremony at the White House. It was one of largest award ceremonies since August 23, 1945, when President Truman, awarded 28 soldiers the Medal of Honor in the East Room if the White House. Before a large audience of high ranking military officers and civilians and members of the families of those honored, President Truman tied the highest award of the Nation on each of the officers and men after citations for their individual deeds of heroism were read by Maj. Gen. Edward F. Witsell.
An orchestra from the Army band played before the ceremony in a lobby outside the historic East Room.
Two of the heroes were in wheel chairs. One was Pfc. Silvestre S. Herrera, 28 of Pheonix, Arizona who captured an enemy stronghold after losing both feet in a charge through a mine field in France. The other was Sgt. Ralph G. Neppel, 21. from Glidden, Iowa who lost a leg but continued to fight in the face of a charging tank in Germany, killing 20 Germans.
|Ralph Neppel, his new Congressional Medal of Honor around his neck, gets kissed in the White House by his fiancee, Jean Moore Credit: Life Magazine 1945|
Another was blind. Applause followed the bestowal of each medal.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, which lasted one hour and fifteen minutes, President Truman stepped up to a microphone and informally told the audience that the men just honored represented a cross section of America – men who loved peace and were able to adjust themselves to the needs of the war. He said their deeds demonstrated that when leadership is required no matter what the emergency, it comes to the top through the young men of America.
|President Harry S. Truman (standing, center) posing with some of the twenty-eight recipients of the Medal of Honor who were decorated at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Credit: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum|
The heroes came from 19 States and one from Canada. In the group were one lieutenant colonel, three captains, four lieutenants, 16 sergeants and four privates.
Of the 28 recipients, 24 were of the European theater of operations and four earned awards in the Pacific. One was Corregior’s “one man army” Pvt. Lloyd G. McCarter, 28, of Tacoma, Washington. He single-handedly held off an all-night counter-attack on Luzon and personally killed more than 30 Japanese during the recapture of the rock fortress in Manilla Bay. The War Department said the large number decorated in a single ceremony was due to the fact that many of the men were severely wounded.
Pfc. Silvestre S. Herrera, Pheonix, Ariz
T/Sgt Bernard P Bell, New York City
S/Sgt Paul L Bolden, Madison, Alabama
First LIeut.Cecil H. Bolton, Huntsville, Alabama
S/Sgt. Herschel F Briles, Ankeny, Iowa
Capt. Bobbie E. Brown, Columbus, Ga
Pfc. Herbert H. Burr, Kansas City
Second Lieut. Edward C Dahlgren, Caribou, Me
T/Sgt. Peter J. Dalessondro, Watervilet, NY
Capt. Michael J. Daly, Southport, Conn.
S/Sgt. Macario Garcia, Sugarland, Texas
T. Sgt. Robert E. Gerstung, Chicago
S/Sgt. James R. Hendrix, Lepanto, Ark.
S/Sgt. Robert E. Laws, Altoona, PA
Sgt. Charles A MacGillivary, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Pvt. Lloyd C. McCarter, Tacoma, Washington
Lieut. Col. George L Mabry, Hagood, S.C.
Second Lieut. Donald E. Rudolph, Minneapolis
T.Sgt. Forrest E. Everhart, Bainbridge, Ohio
Capt. Jack L. Treadwell, Snyder, Oklahoma
Pfc. George B. Turner, Los Angeles
First Lieut. Eli Whiteley, Georgetown, Texas
First Sgt. Leonard Funk Jr., Wilinsburg, Pa.
T/Sgt. Francis J Clark, Salem, N.Y.
S/sgt. Clyde L Choate, Anna, Ill.
S/Sgt. Raymond H. Cooley, South Pittsburgh, Tenn.
Sgt. Ralph G. Neppel, Glidden, Iowa
T.4th Class Arthur O . Beyer, Ogena, Minn.
The New York Times and Oakland Tribune Newspaper Archive: August 23, 1945
Life Magazine, September 3rd, 1945
Congressional Record, Volume 151, By Congress